Thursday 9 March 2023

The 18th UIC World Security Congress took place in Jaipur, India

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UIC and the Railway Protection Force of Indian Railways (RPF) jointly organised the 18th UIC World Security Congress which was held in Jaipur, India, from 21 to 23 February 2023, under the theme: “Railway Security Strategies: Responses and Visions for the Future”. Around 100 participants from 23 countries across the entire UIC network took part in the conference, representing almost all of the UIC regions: Asia, Africa, North America, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as their respective organisations, including railway security managers, transport and police authorities, and international organisations such as the United Nations and Interpol.

The inaugural session was moderated by S. Mayank, and opened with an address from the Director General of the RPF and Chair of the UIC Security Platform, Sanjay Chander, who discussed the importance of the Congress and the relevance of the theme. The Vice-Chair of the UIC Security Platform and Director of SNCF Security, Xavier Roche, then took to the floor stating that he was looking forward to the constructive discussions, the exchange of ideas, and the development of best practices in the field of railway security that the conference would bring.

François Davenne, UIC Director General, emphasised that ensuring the security of freight, passenger, and railway assets would require innovative approaches to prepare for future challenges and that a robust security infrastructure would need to be developed accordingly. Appearing virtually, A. K. Lahoti, CEO and Chairman of the Railway Board, said that the security of Indian Railways’ freight, passengers, and assets, had achieved exceptional progress given its unique constraints, while also highlighting how UIC’s World Security Congress provides an invaluable platform for exchanging ideas and best practices and forging new partnerships.
The speeches were followed by the official release of “The Special RPF Journal - UIC Edition”, alongside its digital version. The journal contains articles from leading professionals from Indian and international police and security organisations, senior officials with decades of experience in civil administration, and industry experts.

Next, the Minister of Indian Railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, welcomed the attendees via video link to the world’s largest democracy, which also has one of the largest railway networks in the world. He said the event was an excellent opportunity to showcase the sector’s cooperation to create safer and more secure railways for the future. Sumati Shandilya, Inspector General at RPF and the Congress Secretary, then closed the inaugural session, expressing his gratitude to all the delegates, attendees, partners, and local administrations.

The first session involved discussions on Protecting Critical Assets and Freight and was moderated by Sandra Gehenot, Director of the UIC Freight Department.

She opened the session by highlighting the importance of creating a smarter offer for long-distance cross-border rail freight and explained the importance of corridors, the role of the types of goods transported, and the need for safe and traceable transport. Gehenot then presented how this could be achieved within logistic chains and the International Union of Railways’ role in facilitating this.

RPF Inspector General Paramshiv, focused on the challenges ahead in his presentation on “Freight Security in India: A Roadmap for the Future” by showing a scenario of freight transport in Indian Railways, analysing the benefits and the threats, and discussing the investments made by Indian Railways in technology and infrastructure development to increase the freight transportation by rail. Finally, he explored the measures for strengthening freight transport security in Indian Railways, using a roadmap for the future.

Miroslav Vojtek, team leader at the Security Department of Správa železnic (SZCZ), underlined how the protection of railway assets was one of the Czech railway infrastructure manager’s main priorities. In his presentation, Vojtek showcased two projects currently under development at SZCZ - an automated ticketing system for level crossing offenders and a remotely secured train station.

Sunil Kumar, Additional Director General of Police for the Railways in Jammu and Kashmir, and K.K. Ashraf, Deputy Inspector General at the RPF, closed the first session with a presentation on “Challenges to Security Forces in Critical Areas”, with a focus on the Kashmir Valley. Kumar covered the various challenges faced by the security forces when protecting railway assets, and ensuring the smooth and safe movement of passengers in areas with a militant presence. Ashraf stressed the importance of developing a technology-based security architecture, with it featuring tools such as artificial intelligence, data and video analytics, an alert management system, and facial and activity-based recognition cameras in order to better combat emerging security threats.

The second session focused on Approaches to Human Security and was moderated by Debashmita C. Banerjee, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner at RPF.

G.M. Eshwara Rao, Inspector General at RPF, and Banerjee gave a presentation on “Enhancing Passenger Security: Security of Women and Children”. Eshwara Rao summarised the challenges faced by railway security professionals in implementing fool-proof and robust security plans in a railway system, using the special constraints on Indian Railways as an example, such as the diverse crimes committed, the various methods used by criminals, and the lack of effective access-control systems. Banerjee detailed the different aspects of human trafficking in India and highlighted the specific action taken by the RPF to address these crimes. She continued by showing how the RPF has been pivotal in various initiatives to protect the most vulnerable members of the public, especially women and children.

Murat Yildrim, Criminal Intelligence Officer at the Human Trafficking & Smuggling of Migrants (HTSM) Unit of the Interpol General Secretariat (ICPO), gave his insights on “Action Against Human Trafficking through Railways: Challenges and Responses”. He discussed Interpol’s role in combating human trafficking and migrant smuggling and then provided an overview of the Interpol HTSM Unit and how it supports member countries in their investigations through Interpol’s global networks, such as ISON (a specialised operational network against migrant smuggling) and HTEG (the Interpol Human Trafficking Expert Group).

Marco Teixeira, Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for South Asia (UNODC ROSA), discussed the rise in narcotics smuggling with a specific focus on the situation in South Asia. He gave practical and result-oriented solutions on action to be taken against narcotics smuggling through railways and underlined the need for coordinated international efforts by strengthening law enforcement capacity through training and knowledge sharing initiatives. He also stressed the importance of international cooperation in sharing intelligence, methodologies for preventing trafficking, and the use of new technologies.

The session was concluded with a keynote speech by the Indian activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, who highlighted the importance of children being safe and secure in society and the ambitious steps taken to tackle child trafficking on the railways in India by his organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan, in coordination with the RPF . He highlighted specific examples, where they rescued victims from the clutches of human traffickers and ensured the security of vulnerable children on the railways.

The focus then shifted to the Best Railway Security Tools and Practices Across the World with Xavier Roche moderating the session.

The session opened with a case study presentation of the best railway security tools and practices in North America, presented by Peter Lambrinakos, Chief of Police and Corporate Security at VIA Rail in Canada. Lambrinakos discussed the steps taken in developing the Collaborative Protocol for Rail Death Investigations (CPRDI) and detailed how the current absence of a formal protocol creates unavoidable delays and undesirable outcomes.

Vincent Roque, Head of Institutional Relations at the National French Railway Company (SNCF), presented their programme for training internal security force agents and the tools and processes used to monitor security on the French railway, including drones and crime prevention and drug detection dogs. He explained how they respond to different incidents in France and concluded his presentation by highlighting the importance of partnerships and carrying out joint missions with other law enforcement agencies.

Magdalena Kujacińska, Project Director at the Polish State Railways (PKP), explained how the company is enhancing passenger security at train stations. She presented PKP’s security architecture, which is based on three main pillars: security personnel, technology, and security partnerships, and also discussed how the Ukrainian refugee crisis has affected the safety at railway stations in Poland and listed the steps taken, based on both a human and technological approach, to deal with this.

Delphine Beatse, Senior Expert for Security Policy from SNCB, Belgium, presented an overview of a comprehensive solution developed by SNCB to fight anti-social behaviour, which includes better identification of phenomena, more efficient reporting, and a more appropriate and faster response.

Samba Ndiaye, Director General of Les Grand Trains de Senegal (GTS) and Yacine Sarr, Technical Assistant of Railway Safety Management at GTS, described the challenges as Senegal develops their railways to enhance growth and development by opening up intercity traffic. Sarr also emphasised that rail system safety is a vital element in GTS’ operations.

Abdullah Ali Alotaibi, Senior Manager for the HSE Operational and Standard, Saudi Arabia Railways (SAR), highlighted the their methods for effectively monitoring performance through examining leading and lagging indicators on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis, and also showed how regular monitoring has reduced the number of potential incidents, as well as the steps taken to reduce trespassing.

Pradnya Saravade, Director General for the Railway Police in Maharashtra, and Ajoy Sadany, Inspector General at RPF, spoke about how Indian Railways’ security operations are an excellent example of cooperative, democratic federalism, with Saravade underpinning that the railway system in Mumbai is its lifeline. She showcased the law enforcement architecture framework on railways and the collaboration of the various agencies to enhance passenger security. Sadany focused on the RPF’s activities, especially on the measures undertaken by the RPF in Mumbai to enhance security preparedness and to tackle crimes against passengers, consignments, and railway materials on the Indian Railways.

The next session was moderated by Arun Kumar, former Director General of the RPF of Indian Railways and focused on a Vision of Rail in 2030.

Grigore Havarneanu, Senior Security Research Advisor at UIC, gave an overview of the security research projects undertaken by the UIC Security Division in the last decade, with one of the key goals being to foster research with and for its members. The Security Division has been a leading research within UIC, having carried out 16 security-based EU-funded projects since 2010, which have tackled key railway security challenges, such as terrorism, CBRN, and cyber security.

Kumar looked back on his visit to the UIC World Security Congress in Prague, where he had presented the RPF’s steps for handling the enormous crowds during the Maha Kumbh Mela in India. He also drew on his experience as the former Director General of RPF to highlight the initiatives taken by the company during the Covid-19 pandemic. Finally, he deliberated on emerging threats to railway security, such as cyber-attacks and the security of high-speed rail in India, and emphasised the need to invest in technology for a secure and resilient railway architecture.

V.S.K. Kaumudi, former Secretary for Security in the Cabinet Secretariat of the Government of India, highlighted the crucial challenges in ensuring fool-proof railway security, i.e., maintaining the seamless movement of passengers and freight, while also ensuring the railway system itself is not attacked. He cited examples of incidents on railway systems, both in India and around the world, which show the railway transportation network’s major vulnerabilities. Focusing on the emerging trends in terrorist activities and cyber-attacks, Kaumudi spoke about the need to develop a modern security and surveillance toolkit to tackle these new threats and protect the railways as a soft target.

S.M. Sahai, Additional Secretary in the National Security Council of the Government of India, mentioned how the growth of technology has impacted every aspect of human life and that the increasing use of technology poses a serious security threat due to potential misuse by criminals. He particularly highlighted how technology can drive misinformation campaigns and create a confirmation bias. As technology, such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and quantum computing, evolves and becomes more powerful, he underscored the need for security stakeholders to act accordingly.

The concluding session centred around providing an update on the UIC Security Division’s activities and then closing the conference with a ceremony. It was coordinated by S. Mayank, the Inspector-General of the RPF.

Marie-Hélène Bonneau, Head of the Security Division, explained how the security platform is composed of three permanent working groups: New Technology (chaired by SZCZ), Human Factors (chaired by Via Rail Canada) and Strategy and Regulation (chaired by SNCB) and updated the delegates on their activities. There are also two other working groups, created according to member needs: SIA - Sabotage, Intrusion and Attacks (chaired by DBAG), and the newly created group on crisis management (chaired by PKP and vice-chaired by RPF). She explained their mission, members, the topics covered, and the activities proposed for the period 2023–25 and continued by presenting the various steps taken by the UIC Security Division to foster cooperation and develop a common knowledge platform as well as developing synergies and cooperation among various stakeholders. Bonneau then highlighted the role of the World Security Congress, workshops, and publications in this regard. The division is also playing an important role in strengthening the regional activities of UIC in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia and has participated in research projects on various aspects of security so that members can benefit from the different outputs.

Delphine Beatse spoke about the Working Group on Strategy and Regulations, providing an update on its activities and the topics covered so far as well as detailing the main topic currently under consideration, which is the security of cross-border trains.

Jerzy Trocha, Chief Specialist at PKP, and Munawar Khursheed, Inspector General at RPF, outlined how the Working Group on Crisis Management functions and invited the attendees to join. They spoke about the potential topics to be covered by the group, such as crowd management, CBRN attacks, and the response to terrorism.

Daria Kardel, Senior Security Advisor at the UIC Security Division, showcased the two tools developed within the UIC Security Division to strengthen cooperation and capitalise on experience sharing. The first tool is the Rail Security Hub (link), which was presented in a live demo. It is a comprehensive and interactive platform for railway professionals worldwide, which includes over 100 security solutions. The other tool is the Network of Quick Responders, an instrument created to receive answers to important railway security questions from around the world as quickly as possible. She showcased how the tools work, how members can use them, and how they can contribute to their development.

Each session ended with a survey on the user-friendly Slido platform, conducted by Laura Petersen, Senior Security Research Advisor at UIC. The surveys asked the participants for their views on various aspects of security on the railway network. The feedback from the congress participants was very positive, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.

Mr. Chander ended the three-day event by outlining the key conference highlights and the important takeaways from the various sessions. The Jaipur Declaration (link), which outlines the agenda for the UIC Security Platform in the coming years, was also presented to and unanimously adopted by the participants.

Finally, Pankaj Kumar Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, complimented UIC and its Security Platform’s role in bringing together stakeholders to develop solutions for emerging security threats. He closed the conference by highlighting the vital role played by RPF towards enhancing passenger security in India through various initiatives such as Operation Nanhe Farishte for the rescue of children and Operation AAHT for rescuing women and children from the clutches of traffickers.

Further information is available on the conference website at

The presentations given during the congress will be available soon on the private UIC security workspace at


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